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"Third Hand Account" from 1886 "Shiloh Shadows"

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Being interested in an obscure couple, Oscar and Ophelia Amigh, who served as private and nurse in Captain (later General) M.M. Trumbull's Co "I" (Butler County Guards) of 3rd Iowa, I look out for items even vaguely related. This item, cited below, was written by Sam Houston, Jr. in 1886 and submitted in 1931 for publication by his brother Col. A.J. Houston.

A few excerpts:

"So you are after additional reminiscences?" said the Ex-Rebel...Well, I left off at the capture of General Prentiss' command, which was effected at the very threshold...of that brigade's encampment."

A description follows of the neat and perfect arrangement of the camp and relates that the camp cooks were preparing breakfast when the uninvited guests dropped in. Prentiss surrendered in Hell's Hollow in the afternoon, I believe. The 3rd Iowa encampment when April 6th dawned had been in Stacy's field just a few hundred feet to the west of the point of Prentiss' surrender. The Ex-Rebel relates in good detail the items the self described "pillagers" liberated from the camp.

Ex-Reb describes the next morning when the Second Texas was awakened early and told by their Captain "The day is ours!" Second Texas advanced northward and pushed back some Federal skirmishers across a field. Ex-Rebel recalled wondering "Where is the enemy" as they advanced.

"We were within a rod of the field's eastern boundary, when the fence before us became transformed into a wall of flame, and under that fiery simoon [about the only word for a hot wind off the Sahara that has not been used as a model name by Volkswagen] our line seemed actually to wilter and curl up; while in front of us and on both our flanks, the very earth swarmed with Federals. So nearly had we approached the enemy, that the ornaments on their caps were readily distinguished, and I remember noting even in that terrible moment, that our immediate adversaries were the 3rd Iowa Infantry."

I believe 3rd Iowa was still armed with unrifled '48 Springfields loaded with buck and ball. If the volley came at the "whites of the eyes" distance, Ex-Rebel's description of "wilter and curl up" seems vividly plausible.

On Sunday 3rd Iowa had been in the Federal line to the left of the Unsunken Road near the Hornet's Rest (if I am to believe recent revisions to nomenclature) and a bit south of the Peach Orchard and the Bloody Mirage.

Histories of 3rd Iowa dismiss them as actors on Monday. Some of the Regiment, including future Iowa Governor Major Stone was captured and they had suffered heavy causalities on Sunday.


Houston, Sam. "Shiloh Shadows." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 34, no. 4 (1931): 329-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30235376.

Sam Houstons Bible.JPG

Edited by Rbn3
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Thanks for bringing the article "Shiloh Shadows" to our attention. It reads similar to a campfire story by Henry Lawson, Australia's master storyteller, as it relates someone's authentic experience as a combatant for the Southern Cause at Shiloh. Condensed over time (as memory tends to do), the former soldier of the 2nd Texas Infantry relates those aspects of the battle of most significance to him: pausing in Prentiss' captured camp to eat and sightsee; witnessing the unexpected horror of bursting shells thrown by Federal gunboats; sleeping overnight in the pouring rain, but too exhausted to notice; rushing into an ambush Monday morning, with the indelible image of that moment -- muskets blazing, comrades falling, and the uniforms of the suddenly-arisen foe so vivid and clear -- forever seared onto the nightmare region of the brain...

In order to read this article, I was "forced" to become an associate member of JSTOR (signing onto their "free on-line read" option). That process required less than five minutes, and was relatively painless (and I now have access to other archived issues of "The Southwestern Historical Quarterly," which may prove to be an unexplored font of Civil War information.)

Thanks again... and Welcome to SDG



N.B.  Although my favourite Henry Lawson stories are "The Loaded Dog" and "The Ironbark Chip," the attached link will provide a sample of his hundreds of Australian Bush tales:    http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015000634546;view=1up;seq=9  




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I had put "Third Hand" in quotes because I think Sam Houston, Jr., uses the literary trick in "Shiloh Shadows" of interviewing himself. He was one of eight children of Gov. Sam Houston of Texas (a Unionist). The ball in the picture is in the Bible his mother gave him a month before Shiloh (the ball was stopped at the 70th Psalm) - likely from a 3rd Iowa musket.  Sam was in the 2nd Texas that was being personally directed by Albert Sydney Johnston when the latter fell via a Minnie to the popliteal artery behind the knee. Johnston had had a dueling injury to that leg so he may not have had full sensation. He quickly bled to death for want of a tourniquet.  

The 3rd Iowa was behind the split rail fence and repulsed the Texans. Sam Jr. was saved by the Bible once but he was wounded in the groin on Monday. Sam's chronology is a bit confusing. The Bible must of been hit Sunday  and the groin wound on Monday. A Federal surgeon found him Monday morning, looked at the wound, and assumed the femoral artery was injured, and thus survival was impossible. Sometime later a Federal chaplain came across him and got him a second opinion. The second surgeon examined the wound more carefully, realized the artery was not injured, and Sam survived by being saved from exposure and dehydration. A Federal soldier might have been immediately carried to a field hospital and operated upon - increasing the risk of death!

Sam, Jr., got an M.D. Degree from the U of Penn in 1867 and practiced medicine in Texas. He was a decent artist (his self portrait is on the Shiloh site) and writer.  "Sam Houston's Rambling Rustlings," is rare Texana - "Shiloh Shadow" is an example. I have not found a digital copy of it yet. I see you are into hathitrust. That is one of my favorites.

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I commend to all of you the Henry Lawson stories in Ozzy's above link, especially the first. It is a bit like the work of Sam Clemens or Rollin Daggett or Dan De Quille of any of the others of the Sagebrush School of Carson Valley Nevada writers who helped to create the easy natural language of our American literature. ["Sage-Brush Sketches," in The Sagebrush Anthology: Literature from the Silver Age of the Old West. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006.] Sam Houston also tells a nice story.
The connection of all this to Shiloh is tenuous, except that Sam Clemens may have engaged the 2nd or 3rd Iowa n Northern Missouri in 1861 during the two weeks he served before deserting. And he may have deserted because he heard of the approach of Col. U.S. Grant.  http://civilwarsaga.com/mark-twains-civil-war-experience/ 
Mark Twain once commented:  "When the (civil) war broke out and commerce on the Mississippi River ceased, my occupation was gone. So I joined the Confederacy. I served for two weeks, and then deserted. The Confederacy fell."

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